HMIC report findings to be welcomed but improvement is needed, says Deputy Commissioner
Nottinghamshire’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Cutland today welcomed the findings of an independent inspection into the county’s approach to domestic violence which highlighted the progress made in responding to victims.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC) recently carried out an inspection of all police forces to assess whether risks to victims of domestic violence are adequately managed and how effective police are in responding to their needs.
Domestic abuse accounts for 11% of calls to the police for assistance in Nottinghamshire and 10% of all recorded crime. Of these calls, 39% are from repeat victims.
The inspection report said tackling abuse is a priority for the Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable and that staff are committed to supporting victims and making them feel safe. The Force’s control room-based customer service advisers are described as “competent, confident and empathetic’ in dealing with domestic abuse victims and are trained to gather as much relevant information as possible through the caller themselves and background checks to enable them to risk assess and deliver the appropriate police response. It also described supervision in the control room of the calls and response as ‘good’ due to the presence of intelligence officers who routinely searched police databases to help customer service advisers to build a picture of the threat of harm to a victim and their children.
However, the HMIC report identified room for improvement and said victims assessed as high risk received a better standard of service than those of medium or standard risk which resulted in inconsistencies.
This issue has been previously identified by Ms Cutland and Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping who last year commissioned a three-year project aimed at identifying ‘what works’ in reducing the risk to repeat victims and improving the support available. There are several ‘medium risk worker’ pilots running across the county where specialist domestic abuse advisors are working jointly with the police to provide a safeguarding package, which was described by inspectors as “good practice”.
The report also highlighted inconsistent approaches between the three multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARAC) that run across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire but said the Force had developed strong links with partner agencies and were working together to share information to protect high risk victims. A working group is already in place within the county to address the issues and align the processes of the MARACs.
Responding to the report, Deputy Commissioner Chris Cutland, the county’s lead for domestic abuse issues, said: “We welcome the findings of HMIC to help us improve Nottinghamshire Police’s approach to tackling domestic abuse.
“It’s important we recognise the hard work carried out by Force staff and officers to support survivors of domestic abuse and ensure the perpetrators of these crimes receive punishment. HMIC has positively appraised the work carried out in the control room by customer service advisors who handle initial calls from victims. It has also acknowledged the improvements we have made in our assessment procedures of those at high-risk of harm.
“However, there is room for improvement and this report is central to helping us understand where to focus our attention in order to implement changes that will positively impact on the effectiveness of our work in responding to and preventing domestic abuse in Nottinghamshire.
“The findings of this inspection will be valuable to the Commissioner’s own review of domestic abuse service provision currently taking place within the county. We are committed to addressing the recommendations contained within this report and will work with the Force to put into place a plan for improvement.”
The HMIC report identified that 40% of violence with injury offences in Nottinghamshire are domestic abuse related.
“Whilst acknowledging that this constitutes a significant proportion of this crime type, we are mindful that this is likely to represent both an increasing understanding of domestic abuse as an issue within our communities and improving confidence amongst survivors in the response they will get from the police,” Ms Cutland added.
“We note the high arrest rate within Nottinghamshire as representative of our “positive action” approach.”
HMIC has set out a series of recommendations designed to mitigate the risks identified in its inspection which include better systems for identifying repeat victims of domestic abuse including a question on their initial contact with customer service advisors asking about their domestic abuse history and prioritising training for officers within the domestic abuse investigation teams to ensure robust management of investigations.
Media Enquiries: Sallie Blair 01283 821012
Posted on Thursday 27th March 2014